– Zap2it.com

“The Benefactor” will be giving out his $1 million a little earlier than originally planned.

ABC will end the run of the unscripted series starring tech billionaire/Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on Oct. 25, a week ahead of its scheduled finale, the network says. The early end date, combined with a pre-emption this week for a “20/20” special on the death of Christopher Reeve, means “The Benefactor” will run for six episodes, two less than its initial order of eight.

A behind-the-scenes “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” special will fill “The Benefactor’s” Monday night spot on Nov. 1. ABC hasn’t announced yet what it will pair with “Monday Night Football” for the remainder of the NFL season.

Like NBC’s Donald Trump-fronted “The Apprentice,” “The Benefactor” has a billionaire deciding the fate of people in a game for a big cash prize. Unlike with the NBC show, however, Cuban isn’t looking for an employee. His prize of $1 million is also larger than the $250,000 the “Apprentice” winner will receive.

The live nature of “Monday Night Football” means that “The Benefactor” doesn’t air in the same timeslot across the country. Viewers in the western half of the country don’t see the show until after the game ends, and it doesn’t have a uniform start time in those cases.

Consequently, it has struggled in the ratings. Through its first four airings, it was averaging fewer than 5 million viewers per week.

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AP-NY-10-14-04 1627EDT

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